Cherry and Martin: Robert Overby - See Robert || Try again. Fail again. Fail better. - 8 Aug 2015 to 24 Oct 2015
Robert Overby, 'Squashed Madonna (Caracciolo copy)' 1973
Oil on canvas
37.5 x 32 inches, 95.25 x 81.28 centimeters
August 8 - September 12, 2015
Opening reception: Saturday, August 8, 6-8pm
Cherry and Martin is pleased to present "Robert Overby: See Robert," a solo exhibition spanning three decades of the formidable artist's career including sculptures, works on paper, neon and paintings.
Like many earlier artists, Robert Overby has spent years trying to emulate old master techniques of surface and paint handling. While a student at the Chicago Art Institute in the 50’s he roamed the painting galleries. "Although I’ve been doing fine art only for a few years (1969)," he says, "I can still remember liking what I still like today. Even as advertising students, the Museum galleries always seemed to be part of our assignments.” In fact, the frustration of his inability in his attempts to blend oil painting and achieve the ‘look’ sent him on some interesting tangents for the first few years of his fine artists career. Then a friend of a friend gave him some home-brew painting medium formulas and voila!, old master technique. He still makes medium and paint. "It’s cheaper,” he says.
Overby’s interest in Baroque era paintings doesn’t, however, extend to their narrative content, "I have to reconstruct the painting in my mind to see whether there are putti or not, but the form and feeling are very strong,” he remarks, "and the drawing," he adds. Since ancient art concerns seems so far removed from today’s Overby feels that the precedent for realistic art is primarily the mass media, "Photography in particular was important to me as a designer - shapes I didn’t draw myself I had photographed - and as a way of seeing it still fascinates me.” Another source is commercial illustration, pocket book covers in particular, "The 40’s and 50’s had some marvelous illustrators," and although their style of painting had died out for years, "it’s come booming back on the cover of romance novels,” he says happily. "When I was going to school here in Los Angeles, there were also great handpainted billboards around, like the Gas Company boards, for instance. There’s a (billboard painting of the) head of ‘David’ at Forest Lawn in Glendale now that’s a knockout, a real good painter." Overby continues, "Most representational artists shy away from the commercial stuff…I like it!” So much for precedent.
It all has to do with the accessibility of image, Overby says, and he sees nothing wrong with the old saws, it’s what you do with them that counts, he claims. Overby’s painted collage images belie their source and original intent, like as not forming a kind of grim sociological footnote. His art in the 70’s had something to do with the burgeoning of pornography then and still extant. Plus it turned up at his fingertips, "My Hollywood Boulevard studio - at the crotch of Hollywood and Sunset - had a sometime porn printer nearby. I used to raid his dumpster,” he says, "The press sheets I’d find were all the things that could go wrong with a printing press; smears caused by dryers and water balance problems, muscular and registry, images that looked like what some N.Y. painters are doing today,” he laughs.
One direction Overby’s art is taking at present time is in what he calls his ‘Disparate Women’ series painted from paperbacks,"Late 50s paperback covers are something else,” he comments, "sexy woman victims, and we wonder at our present reality." Overby tends to be an observer, even a voyeur, rather than a moralizer, which puts him at odds with some. He seldom glosses his content, bringing up serious questions of responsibility. On this he takes the First Amendment.*
*All of the above text was written by Robert Overby at some point in the 1980’s and released by him as an informal, quasi-promotional pamphlet (one of a set of six pamphlets published by the artist). At the time he wrote these words, Overby had chosen to operate largely outside the art world. He was judge and jury for himself and his artistic output, much as he had been since the publication of his ‘red book,’ 336 to 1: August 1973-July 1969 in 1974. Robert Overby passed away in 1993.
Overby’s work was recently the subject of a major solo museum survey, Robert Overby: Works 1969 – 1987, curated by Alessandro Rabottini [Centre d’Art Contemporain (Geneva, Switzerland); travelled to Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo (Bergamo, Italy), Bergen Kunsthall (Bergen, Norway) and Le Consortium (Dijon, France)]. Robert Overby: Works 1969 – 1987 was accompanied by a major publication of the same title. Robert Overby’s work is in such collections as Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York); Museum of Modern Art (New York); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), Weatherspoon Art Museum (Greensboro); Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco); Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles); Hammer Museum (Los Angeles); and Museum of Contemporary Art (San Diego).
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
William J. O'Brien
Opening Saturday, August 22, 2015, 6-8pm
August 22 - October 10, 2015
2732 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Cherry and Martin is pleased to present Try again. Fail again. Fail better. This exhibition examines four artists’ explorations of ceramics and the inherent nature of its process, contributing authentic voices to the conversation surrounding clay. Artists working today are continually embracing modes of the medium, often freeing it from the rooted sense of tradition and functionality, but ever interested in the physical ‘making’ of art. The show title, taken from Samuel Beckett’s 1983 prose Worstword Ho, emphasizes the chance driven process that is often part of working with clay. Multiple attempts are made, fired, re-fired, glazed, glazed again, assembled, re-assembled, and so forth. The unfolding of this progression is ultimately what draws us to the final objects.
Katy Cowan’s slip cast ceramic objects are conceptual signifiers of her practice’s larger purpose: repeating object, idea and meaning through multiple castings. A hammer, for example, is cast over and over again becoming a painterly ceramic parody of itself before being put back to use as a studio tool. Often incorporated into larger installations with other craft oriented media such as hand braided and dyed ropes, Cowan’s ceramic objects index her own physical approach to making work in her studio.
Young Japanese artist, Takuro Kuwata, draws from tradition, but his haphazard approach to the medium is both innovative and exploratory. Kuwata’s work combines eastern tradition with western technique. This duality manifests itself in pop colored vessels and mounds encrusted with metallic drips atop ruptured surfaces of clay that have been blown apart from a firing technique called Ishihaze or “stone explosion."
William J. O’Brien’s practice expands well beyond ceramics and includes collage, drawing, painting, tapestries and sculpture. His ceramic works are both impulsive and primitive in their making, but pay keen attention to color, pattern and form. Ceramic pieces are stacked atop one another as totem-like forms and can feel both playful and irregular. However, O’Brien’s distinct visual language is that of an artist drawing from history, language, popular culture, and ethnogaphic narratives.
Adam Silverman’s ceramic vessels are rooted in the centuries-old tradition of throwing clay. However, Silverman is as much of an installation artist as a ceramicist and often approaches a body of work as a whole rather than through singular objects. Ceramic vessels sit atop precisely chosen bases, and various vessels are fired and glazed multiple times - at times, together in one kiln. A fusion of form, experimentation and tradition are the foundation of Silverman’s practice.
Cherry and Martin is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10am-6pm and by appointment. The 2732 space is open Tuesday - Saturday from 11am-5pm and by appointment. For images and additional information, please contact email@example.com or call 310 559-0100.